Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, is coming up with some interesting initiatives to deal with the chrinic problem of traffic congestion across the country and use infrastructure in mutiple ways to better cater to transportation needs of both urban and remote areas. At a time when pollution levels globally are under focus, Gadkari is looking to introduce driverless pods and build a robust network of inland waterways for environment friendly solutions to transport issues. We take a look at some initiatives that have grabbed the limelight recently:
1) Water taxis: The Ministry of Shipping is looking at introducing ‘water taxis’ on the Yamuna river, between Haryana’s Palla and Wazirabad in Delhi. According to a news report, the 16-km distance can be covered by the water taxi in around 45 minutes. It is being said that the government has identified five terminal sites along the river and the project is likely to cost approximately Rs 28 crore. This includes the cost of the vessels, dredging and building the terminals.
2) Metrino pods: The tender process for Metrino driverless pods for Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) is underway and an agreement on the same is expected soon. Gadkari has announced the Metrino Personal Rapid Transit System from Delhi-Haryana border to Rajiv Chowk and Sohna road (Badshahpur Chowk) as a pilot project. According to some media reports, the pilot project will span a 13 km stretch from the Gurgaon-Delhi border to Badshapur Mod on Sohna Road. It is estimated to cost Rs 850 crore.
Metrino pods are small (car size), fully automatic, driverless vehicles that travel independently suspended under an overhead network of light guideways, 5 to 10m above street level. According to Metrino PRT, one of the companies that has participated in the tender process, “each pod can carry up to five people. All pods, stops and the route network are meant to be monitored by security cameras.” For the pilot project route, 16 stations have been planned, starting near Ambience Mall in Gurgaon.
3) New Delhi-Jaipur highway: A new access control highway between Delhi and Jaipur is being planned, which will reduce the travel time between the cities to just two hours. For those who frequently commute between the two cities, this would come as a welcome relief, since not only is the Delhi-Jaipur known for its heavy traffic jams, but also for the number of accidents that occur on it. Gadkari said the project would cost Rs 16,000 crore and work on it will be started in January, 2017. The 270-km distance takes over six hours by road now.
4) Highways for aircraft landing: The government is looking at building highways across the country that can also serve as landing strips or runways for aircraft, both civil and military. Gadkari has spoken of the government’s plan to come up with an ‘airport’, in which the highway can be used both by vehicles and aeroplanes. The ‘airport’ is reportedly being built in Rajasthan.
In June this year, Nitin Gadkari had said, “Along with defence ministry, we are thinking of a proposal. We are making our national highways of cement and concrete. We can use them as airports and are identifying sites. The vehicular traffic will be stopped when an aircraft will be landing and once it leaves, the vehicle traffic will resume.”
5) Using waste for highway construction: For the purpose of constructing highways, the solid waste from Ghazipur mandi in Delhi will be used. The famous Ghazipur mandi, which supplies vegetables and fruits to a large portion of Delhi and adjoining areas, is known as a major contributor to air pollution in the region because of the landfill gases from the garbage dump caused by the waste from the market. NHAI is already utilising fly-ash up to 30 per cent of earth filling in the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and using other slag materials elsewhere.
(With inputs from Agencies)